Tag Archives: culture

Hyper Japan + Xmas in Japan + cute Bonsais

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Hyper Japan this year had awesome staff that greeted you in the entrance with mementos from Japan. They had an awesome Xmas tree with a twist: you could adorn it with your wishes, like if you were in Japan. When you go to a temple, you can write your wishes on wooden blocks and leave them there so they become true. Instead to do it within a Japanese temple, Hyper Japan greeted you with the possibility of mixing Western culture with Japanese culture. Your wishes would decorate a Xmas tree! (How cool is that!?)

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I’d like to be an Ama, Japanese mermaid

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I’d like to be as beautiful as Ama, Japanese mermaid. Ama (海女) means “woman of the sea”. Ama are specialized free-diving women who are able to go down into the sea around 30 feet, into the cold water, wearing simple clothing, to gather shellfish. They were able to work during 4 hours! These strong women maintained the traditional way of diving (including the clothing) just till recently.

Ama divers, Japanese mermaids, used to collect oysters and pick up the pearls. They got bonuses if they could find pearls. So, the business started up and went well till tourism arrived. Ama used to do their jobs with simple clothing, only covering the lower parts of their bodies. However, due to the astonishment of tourists, in 1964 full body suits were introduced. So, the tradition kind of broke up in the moment the whole suit was introduced.

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Hello Kitty is not a cat, she is a theriantrope!

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We have just learnt that Hello Kitty is not a cat. According to Christine R. Yano, author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific she is not a cat, she is a cartoon character. “She is a little girl. (…) But she is not a cat”. Let’s analyze this information with more detail.

If we take a closer look to Hello Kitty we can see that she has a cat head. Even if Christine R. Yano insists in Hello Kitty not being a cat, her head is that of a kitty. Now, the body is totally human. So, if she states that “she is a little girl,” we need to revise Hello Kitty. Okay, Hello Kitty is not a cat, and thus, she cannot be an anthropomorphized kitty. What is anthropomorphism? Anthropomorphism is the act of attributing human characteristics, or human behaviors to animals, objects and even Gods. So, if Hello Kitty was to be a cat, she would definitely be an “anthropomorphized cat.”

However the statement that Hello Kitty is not a cat, leaves us with another, yet more interesting, view about Hello Kitty. If “she is a little girl,” then she must be a “theriantrope.” But, what is a “theriantrope”? A theriantrope is a being who is half animal, half human. The word theriantrope comes from the ancient Greek words: “therion” (wild animal) and “anthropos” (man, human). Theriantropy is used to describe ancient belief systems, according to which half human half animal Gods helped humanity. It also explains spiritual beliefs in animal transformation into the Japanese culture (According to “A History of the Japanese People from the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era”, 1915). In recent times, theriantropy has also been used to explain cave-art paintings from our ancestors.

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Rinkya Japanese Flashcards: “kanzen muketsu”

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Good news! The Rinkya Japanese Flashcards are here! Learn Japanese with Rinkya. Collect all the Flashcards and discover what’s hidden behind them. You can print them out, you can share them with your friends, and you can have fun learning Japanese with Rinkya.

Today we have a word composed with 4 kanji: “kanzen muketsu.” It means “absolutely perfect.” So, if you do something or you see someone doing something “kanzen muketsu,” now you can use the word.

Japan Word of the Day #132 – Shochū Mimai

Today’s Word is: Shochū Mimai (暑中見舞い)

Shochū Mimai (暑中見舞い) is a greeting card sent to friends and families during summer. As you know, summer season in Japan could be intensely humid and hot. It’s easy for people to get sick and tired. To soothe such discomfort, Japanese people take this opportunity to send a postcard, ask friends how they are doing, and wish for their pleasant summer.

shochu mimai shochu mimai

Traditionally, shochū mimai cards are sent between late July and early August. There’s no restrictions on what kind of designs to send, but it typically includes a season’s greeting Shochū omimai moushiage-masu (暑中お見舞い申し上げます).”

From Rinkya, we wish you a comfortable summer too!

Image sources: AllAbout, Yahoo Blog

Japan Word of the Day #131 – Aiaigasa

Today’s Word is: Aiaigasa (相合い傘)

Aiaigasa (相合い傘) means a behavior where two people share one umbrella. Although a simple act of sharing an umbrella does not necessarily mean they are in relationship in actuality, as they could be doing it for practical reason, but when you call it aiaigasa, you are definitely implying romantic tension behind it.

People often draw aiaigasa symbol (shown below) with their name underneath it to show they are in love. Sometimes kids do it to poke fun at others who are attracted to each other.

Although it’s no fun when it rains, but take it in positive way. It’s also a great chance to get closer to someone you love!

Image sources: Puri Gazou, QWE

Japan Word of the Day #127 – Yamato Nadeshiko


Today’s Word is: Yamato Nadeshiko (やまとなでしこ)

When you compliment a woman, what do you praise?
Her appearance, her intelligence, or her kind heart?
Yamato nadeshiko (やまどなでしこ) is a phrase that describes a Japanese woman who is both beautiful and strong-minded. Yamato means Japan, and nadeshiko is a type of flower (Dianthus).

Nadeshiko (dianthus)

Nadeshiko (dianthus)

yamato nadeshiko is thought to be an idealized image of perfect Japanese woman. Pure and delicate, but also strong. That’s why Japanese women’s national soccer team is given a nickname “Nadeshiko Japan,” to praise beauty that originates from both inside and outside of them.

Image sources: Gishu Dojo, Manyo no Hana


Japan Word of the Day #119 – Hashioki

Today’s Word is: Hashioki (箸置き)

Hashioki (箸置き) is a chopstick rest used to prevent chopsticks from touching the table when eating food. A hashioki is made of a variety of materials including ceramics, glass, stone, and wood. Designs are also as varied as the materials they are made of.


When eating out, not all the restaurants offer hashioki.
In this case, you can make your own hashioki using a wrapper of disposable chopsticks.
There is even an entire book about how to make chopstick rests out of these paper wrappers.

hashioki-chopstick-rest-using-wrapper-rinkya-japan2 hashioki-chopstick-rest-using-wrapper-rinkya-japan

Tip: When using a hashioki to go with a Japanese dish, the general rule is to place it so that the tips of chopsticks are facing left. In Chinese food and other Asian cuisines, chopsticks may be placed lengthwise, but not in Japanese cuisine.

Image sources: Scandinavian Interior, Yaplog

Japan Word of the Day #118 – Osoreirimasu

Today’s Word is: Osoreirimasu (恐れ入ります)

Osoreirimasu (恐れ入ります)” is an expression that uniquely reflects Japanese culture.
This single phrase could mean both “thank you” and “I’m sorry to trouble you.”
It’s a polite expression generally used for guests and someone who’s older or in a higher social rank than you.

In Japanese language, a sign of apology is often interchangeable with that of gratitude.
This is because when Japanese people show thankfulness to another, they pay their highest respect by lowering themselves and being apologetic to take up someone’s time. In western culture, this attitude could be perceived too indirect sometimes. A simple “thank you” or “arigatou gozaimasu” may sound more honest and sincere in such case.

For example, at a restaurant, when a waiter wants to ask customers to move their seats, he would start with a phrase “osoreirimasu ga… (恐れ入りますが),” and then asks them to move over. In this case, the phrase means “I’m sorry to trouble you, but could you…?”
A very polite customer may thank the waiter by saying “osoreirimasu (恐れ入ります).” In the latter case, it means “I’m sorry to take up your time to do this for me,” but ultimately, it’s a very humble way of saying “thank you.”
Not many people use this expression when they are on the customers side though, because to them, waiters are supposed to serve them and be polite to then, and not the other way around. However, when you do show respect by saying it, you’d definitely give people a nice impression and would be seen as someone with a sophisticated manner.

Image source: Dokujo News

Japan Word of the Day #117 – Hieshō

Today’s Word is: Hieshō (冷え性)

Hieshō is a symptom where an individual continually feels cold in his or her hands, feet, thighs, and arms, even in warm weather. In Japan, it’s considered a common problem/condition for women. Causes can vary and could be a combination of many, but a lot of the times it’s a lifestyle problem such as bad circulation caused by lack of exercise, working long hours in an air-conditioned office, hormone imbalance from stress, etc.

Many products are advertised and targeted specifically to people suffering from hieshō.

foot-warmer-rinkya-japan2 foot-warmer-rinkya-japan

Foot Warmer” controls temperature around your feet (above).


This “Hot Alpha Tsumasaki Walker” is a pair of small socks that partially absorbs moisture from feet to produce heat inside. They only cover tips of feet, so you can wear them with pumps without being too conspicuous at work.

I noticed that Tully’s Coffee in Japan often offer complimentary blankets to their customers during their stay, even in summer (some stores could get really chilly from air-conditioning). As I am suffering from hieshō myself, such service makes me truly appreciate Japanese people’s hospitality.

Image source: Pokapoka Mura, Rakuten